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When The Worst Thing Happens

  • Heidi

What To Do When A Dog Attacks Your Dog

It can happen in an instant. One moment, you’re enjoying a leisurely walk with your dog. The next, a strange dog comes charging out of nowhere – straight for your dog.

These situations are incredibly scary, not to mention potentially dangerous for humans and their dogs. However, they’re also far too common. But do you know what to do if it happens to you and your dog?

Following these simple steps can help when facing a dog fight.

1. Stay Calm

This is likely the hardest thing to do, but it’s the most important.

These moments are already supercharged with energy, so screaming, shouting, jumping up and down, or flailing limbs can escalate the situation in a heartbeat. We know it’s not easy, but the best thing you can do is appear calm and confident in the heat of the moment.

2. Drop the Leash

Next to staying calm, this can be the hardest thing to do. But, when faced with a strange, off-leash dog, your dog needs to communicate freely and protect itself. Leashes can interfere with natural dog behaviors. In fact, they can even increase negative exchanges between dogs. Worse yet, they can make potential injuries more severe.

However, a dropped leash also means your dog could flee the other dog in this situation – which could be their best option for avoiding serious injury. Play it safe and make sure their identification tags are always up-to-date. Better yet, consider a Smart Collar with GPS tracking so you can find your dog easier if you end up separated.

3. Don’t Get in the Middle

We love our dogs and want to do anything to protect them, but getting in the middle puts you at serious risk too. This is especially true if you bend over to grab a leash or collar, a move that can put your face close to gnashing teeth.

Instead, stand up straight and try distracting them from a distance by clapping your hands or squeezing a squeaky ball or toy. You can even carry a loud whistle on your walks in case of these emergencies.

4. Use an Object to Separate Them

Check your surroundings for anything that could act as a barrier between the dogs. Even a garbage can lid, piece of cardboard, or an open umbrella can help stop a fight long enough to separate the dogs safely. Is it winter? Try throwing your jacket over the dog at higher intensity to break up eye contact and disrupt the moment. Is it summer? Try spraying them with a garden hose. Or start carrying an umbrella year-round, just in case.

Remember, don’t use your own body or limbs to separate the dogs, or you could end up injured in the process.

5. Call for Help

In an ideal world, an off-leash dog would have a human close behind, so they can help intervene. Better yet? The dog is dragging a leash that the human can grab. If this is the case, slowly separate the dogs using their leashes, not grabbing collars. But if their jaws are locked, DO NOT pull them apart; it can lead to more serious, tearing types of injury.

When a dog doesn’t have a human on its heels (or a leash attached), call for help. If there’s no other way to break up the fight, trainers recommend the “wheelbarrow method” to intervene. This scenario involves lifting under the hips of each dog (not by the legs and backing them in opposite directions.

Prevention Can Help

Whenever possible, prevention is the best way to avoid a dogfight. You can often do this by watching your dog for signs of stress and watching for approaching dogs. In these situations, you can usually change directions, throw treats or food to the strange dog as a distraction, or firmly call out familiar commands, like “Sit!”

Unfortunately, prevention may not always be possible. If your dog does end up attacked, ask for the owner’s contact information and take a photo of the dog. Then, take note of your dog’s injuries and contact their vet immediately. Even minor injuries can become infected, and they may sustain psychological trauma from the event that requires professional help.

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